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Full House As Glenview Trustees, County, Talk Housing Vouchers
Village Trustees To Consider Changes To Fair Housing Ordinance Next Month

Friday, September 19, 2014
Journal Online

Close to 40 people filled Glenview Village Hall last night (Thursday) for a discussion with village and county officials on housing vouchers and Glenview’s fair housing ordinance.

Glenview trustees adopted a fair housing ordinance in August 2013, just days before a new Cook County human rights ordinance went into effect, that exempted Glenview landlords from provisions in the county ordinance dealing with the county’s housing voucher program (also commonly referred to as Section 8). Village President Jim Patterson said the Glenview ordinance was enacted to maintain "status quo” for local landlords and renters and give village officials time to study the issue.

The county ordinance mandates that all landlords accept tenants with housing vouchers, only if they were otherwise qualified as a tenant and passed any other screening criteria by the landlord, which all potential tenants would face. The county housing voucher program had been voluntary.

“SOI (source of income) protection would not force a landlord to participate if the tenant does not meet the landlord’s typical requirements. For instance, the landlord can deny tenancy for insufficient credit rating or a bad landlord reference, as long as the criteria are applied equally to all renters,” said Brendan Saunders, a director with Winnetka-based fair housing advocacy organization Open Communities. “The amendment would not control rent rates. Landlords can charge whatever rent the market will bear.”

Landlords and property managers, including former Glenview Plan Commission Chairman Howard Silver, said the program was overly onerous saying the process could lead to delays in renting units.

Village Trustee Paul Detlefs said the county ordinance is a “solution seeking a problem.” He pointed out that the inspection includes a 20-page, 99-question checklist, eight-page contract, and mandatory addendum to any lease.

Top Cook County housing officials at the meeting pointed to benefits for landlords.

County officials said inspections are scheduled and completed within just a few days. Most of the items on an inspection list are life safety items needed because tenants cannot be moved into an unsafe apartment.

County officials said only apartments being considered for rental by housing voucher holders would be inspected along with common areas of the building.

Landlords participating would receive a direct deposit payment on the first of each month for the portion of the rental subsidy paid for by the county, a feature officials said many landlords very much liked.

Village Trustee Scott Britton, who voted against the village ordinance in August because of the voucher language, said people would use the housing voucher program as a pretext to discriminate.

Referring to an audience member who spoke questioning the effect on school test scores and home values if, “those people” are allowed into Glenview neighborhoods, Britton said, “I want ‘those people’ in Glenview, I want them with my kids at GBS and Attea.”

Britton said the village puts regulations on residents all the time. He said while recently remodeling his kitchen, village regulations required installing of hard-wired smoke detectors costing him $1,200.

On generalizations of housing voucher tenants, Cook County officials said program participants do not want to be dropped from the program for an eviction or violation of the rules, making them better tenants.

Saunders said there is no evidence housing values decrease with voucher tenants in a neighborhood and said they have been known to increase.

In response to one resident’s questions, Saunders pointed to a recent New York Times article involving housing voucher residents in New York State being moved to wealthier communities with better schools and test scores going up.

County officials said Glenview currently has 151 households using vouchers. That could include residents outside village boundaries with a Glenview address in unincorporated areas -- far above Northbrook’s 19 voucher users.

Patterson said the issue of whether to change Glenview’s fair housing ordinance would be considered at the village’s October board meeting.

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